NASCAR officials have granted Matt Kenseth and Ryan Newman waivers for eligibility in the 2020 Cup Series playoffs.
The two drivers missed races at the start of the season but have been confirmed to compete full time once the racing schedule resumes after the coronavirus outbreak begins to subside. The waivers were announced Tuesday afternoon.
Playoff eligibility hinges on drivers competing in all 36 Cup Series races and maintaining at least a top-30 ranking in the points standings. The waiver removes the first of those two requirements. Drivers qualify for one of the 16 berths by either winning a regular-season race or being among the top points earners without a win.
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Kenseth’s waiver comes one day after Chip Ganassi Racing announced his return to NASCAR’s top division as the new driver of its No. 42 Chevrolet. The former series champ replaces Kyle Larson, who was indefinitely suspended by NASCAR and dismissed by Ganassi after his use of a racial slur during an iRacing event April 12.
Kenseth’s last Cup Series start came in 2018 and he began this year without a ride, but he and Ganassi indicated Monday he plans to finish the 2020 season in the No. 42.
Newman has been out of action since he was seriously injured in a final-lap crash at the Daytona 500 in February. He missed the last three Cup Series races before the coronavirus pandemic forced the sports world’s work stoppage.
During an iRacing broadcast that aired Sunday on FOX Sports, Newman said he planned to return to the No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford once the racing schedule resumes. NASCAR officials provided medical clearance the next day. Despite sitting out three races during his recovery, Newman ranks 29th in Cup Series points with his ninth-place finish at Daytona International Speedway.